What is infinite storage?

A colleague of mine, a Ph.D. in Physics, objected to my use of the term “infinite storage” in some lecture notes I posted on the Web.

I think that infinite storage is something that might be possible in my lifetime. What does “infinite storage” means? Let us consider how much is required to achieve the mythical (digital) memex.

  • To record everything you read in a year requires 25MB.
  • To record everything you hear in a year requires 100GB.
  • To record everything you see in a year requires 10TB.

Hence, I argue that whenever I will be able to buy a cheap 10TB disk at my local electronics store, I will have infinite storage. Currently a portable 1TB drive can be had for $569.

What about recording everything I hear? Right now, I can buy a slick 100GB portable drive for $160.

Interesting question: how would I ever search through all these sounds?

And what about all these people who will get upset that I am recording them?

(Reference: Jim Gray, What Next? A Dozen Information-Technology Research Goals, Journal of the ACM, Vol. 50, No. 1, January 2003.)

Daniel Lemire, "What is infinite storage?," in Daniel Lemire's blog, October 26, 2006.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “What is infinite storage?”

  1. you may not even have to buy the infinite storage. My Dreamhost account comes with 200GB of storage, and they add 1GB/week. For less that $10/month. They recently increased allocated drive space by an order of magnitude, at no additional cost to the users. Essentially infinite storage, available from anywhere on the Internet Cloud. They also throw in 2TB of bandwidth per month to provide access to that growing hard drive.

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